Before Jonathan Knoll and Chris Pahl opened Broken Wheel Brewing in Marksville in January, there were no breweries between I-10 and Shreveport. Knoll owns Fresh Catch Bistreaux (109 Tunica Drive East, Marksville, 318-253-6543), and he opened the brewery at the restaurant.
Homebrewer Gary Guillory taught Knoll and brewery co-founder Pahl how to brew and built their 30-gallon brewing system in the back of the restaurant.
"We're brewing every other day," Knoll says.
The brewery name pays tribute to the founder of the city, Marc Eliche, who settled in central Louisiana just before 1800 after a wheel on his wagon broke.
Broken Wheel's beer styles and names also reflect surrounding Avoyelles Parish and personal connections. The brewery's signature Spring Bayou Blonde Ale references the nearby state park where locals swim and fish. Pachafa Pale Ale is a low-IBU (International Bittering Units) pale ale named for the area's bogeyman, which parents used to scare their children. Grand Chien Milk Stout pays tribute to Guillory's assistance, since his homebrew operation is called Big Dog Brewing, and he taught Knoll how to make the beer.
Muddy Waters Brown Ale takes its name from the nearby swamps and bayous. "We eat seafood from muddy water, hunt and fish the muddy water, and many Louisianians work on the muddy waters of our bayou state," Knoll says.
There are no plans to expand production beyond serving at Fresh Catch.
"We'd eventually like to offer our beer to other local bars and restaurants," he says. "But right now we want to be able to produce consistent and delicious beer." — NORA McGUNNIGLE